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-^^^^ f::>;i 

37417 NilesBlvd O'^M 510-494-1411 

Fremont, CA 94536 '""' www.nilesfilmmuseum.or 

Scanned from the collections of 
Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum 

Coordinated by the 
Media History Digital Library 

Funded by a donation from 
Jeff Joseph 

Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2012 with funding from 

IVIedia History Digital Library 

Gcorg Schmidt 
Werner Schmalenbach 
Peter Bachlin 

Layout: Hermann Eidenbenz 
English version: Hugo Weber and Roger Manvell 

1 ri rL r 1 LlVl Its Econoruic^ Social, and Artistic Prolflems 


Printed in Switzerland 


This book is the rcsuk ot an exhibition "The Fihii Yesterday and Today" 
shown in 1943 during the hrst Basle Fih:iWeek ("Ten Days of Fihii in Basle"), 
in the Gcwerbemuseum in Basle, in 1944 in the Gewerbenuiseinii in Berne, in 
1945 in the Kiuistgcwerbemuscum in Zurich, in 1947 at the Film Festival 
in Brussels and in 1948 in Amsterdam. 

The exhibition was arranged in three parts. In the first part there were 
64 panels on the economic, social and artistic problems of the fiction film and 
its various interrelations. In the second part the educational film and the ama- 
teur film (the sub-standard film) were treated. In the third part photographic 
and projection equipment was shciwn. The exhibition was accompanied by 
detailed commentary in a catalogue. 

The desirability of making the first part of the exhibition and its accom- 
panying text available in the form of a book was frequently suggested, because 
it summarized in a new form the significance of the economic, social and 
artistic problems of the film. 

Thanks to the initiative of the Holbein Publishing Company and a generous 
grant from the Government of Basle it was possible to realize this suggestion. 
The Commission of the Swiss Film Archive in Basle, with whom the original 
panels had been deposited, agreed to act as editor. 

This book is more than a copy of the panels of the exhibition and the 
accompanying text in the exhibition catalogue. All the panels were completely 
revised in content and expression. Many of the pictures were replaced by better 
examples and more were added. The text on the left accompanying the plates 
in the book was essentially changed from the exhibition catalogue. The pictures 
on the left side were newly added. Finally, the readjustment to book size of the 
large, poster-like layouts, designed to be seen from a distance, required a 
more careful formulation of the material. 

Next, a word concerning the division of the work among the authors. The 
systematic conception of the original exhibition and therefore also ot the book 


was prepared by Georg Schmidt. The presentation of the artistic problems of 
the fdm was devised by Werner Schmalenbach. Peter Bachhn placed at our 
disposal the statistical material tor the presentation ot the ccononnc problems 
of the film. Werner Schmalenbach selected the pictures. The typographic 
design of the plates, which is closely related to the contents, was prepared by 
Hermann Eidcnbcnz. hi spite of this separation o( labour, every plate is the 
result of careful collaboration. 

Finally, something should be said concerning the layout of the book. 

hi spite of its brief career of scarcely half a century, tlie tdm has already 
shown a remarkable historical development, technically, economically, socially 
and artistically. On the other hand, it is, in its present state, an extremely 
variable phenomenon in its difterent spheres, production methods and eco- 
nomic structure. 

There are, therefore, two possible methods for the presentation of the sub- 
ject of the film. First, one can show it in historical cross-section; that is, how 
It arose, developed and expanded. Or alternatively it can be slunvii by means 
of a cross-section oi its present state, indicating what its present hmction is, 
what its technical and artistic means are, and what is the nature ot its economic 
and social structure. 

In the tace ot the cxtraordinar^• complexity ot the tilm as it is today, we 
have chosen the latter method of demonstration, the cross-section analysis of 
the tilm in its present state. This method ot presentation has the following 
advantage: the average film-goer sees only the finished product; he knows 
very little of the technical, economical, social and artistic iiiHuences which con- 
dition the nature ot the product. To give him this knowledge, to make him 
aware ot these conditions — this seems to us the most essential function of 
the book. 

For this reason, the nature of the book as a presentation of the entire creative 
process of the film from production to consumption arose quite naturally: 
the economic basis of the film (financing), its means o( artistic production 
(scenario, direction, acting, decoration, and general technique), the distribution 
of the finished film (by sale and rental), its presentation in motion picture 
theatres, and finally the place of the film-goer. 


But since the present situation of the film cannot be really understood in 
any of its parts without having insight into its historical growth, some histo- 
rical considerations are incorporated in their proper place in the general cross- 
section: the development of the e ononnc foundations of the film, from its 
beginning up to the present time, the development oi its different artistic 
techniques, and the development of distribution and exhibition. 

This makes it possible to elucidate something else ot importance. The film 
reveals not only its own development, it appears at a very definite moment in 
the general development of human culture. Its appearance is not accidental, 
but fulfils an historical need, equally from the technical, social and artistic 
points of view. The film cannot be isolated from the history of econoinics 
and from the history of society ; it occupies a very definite place in economic 
and social development. And in addition, it plays a definite part in the history 
of the theatre, painting, literature and music. 

To know all this is indispensable for a real understanding of what the film 
is today and what it could be in the future. Some historical analysis included in 
the general cross-section helps to clarify this. 

Of the manifold types of contemporary films — among them the fiction 
film, the documentary film, the newsreel, the advertising film and the ama- 
teur film — only the fiction film is treated in this book. This is because the 
fiction film is undoubtedly the most influential, and also because the cultural 
problems of the film appear most obviously in the fiction film. 

It was harder for us to omit discussion of film technique. The nature of the 
fiction film particularly is determined to a significant degree by its technique. 
Our attitude concerning the technical aspect of the fiction film has been 
adopted in a purely arbitrary way, on one plate only. However, there arc 
enough occasions to mention this technical aspect of the various problems of 
the film when dealing with them. A detailed presentation of film technique 
and its historical development, on which a rich specialized hterature already 
exists, would have taken us outside the f amework of this book. 


Note to the Eii(^lish Edition 

This bool; is an intcrcstiin^ ami valuable experiment. It makes use of pictorial dis- 
plays, cliarts and diai^ra)iis to snnn)uni:e and reinorce its an^nnients concerning the 
complex series of facts and problems wliich are involved in any coinpreliensive stndy 
of tlie cinema. 

It may be said that this style of presentation is Germanic in its neatness and 
thoroughness. Xo attempt has been made in the translation to modify this style, since 
it is part of the very nature and value of the work. Xeither has any alteration been 
introduced where there is difference betiveen conditions operatiny; in Sivitzerlaiut and 
in some other coiuitries, as, for instance, in the case of the bloch and blind bookiuii "/ 
films. IVhile adoptino very necessarily a world view of their subfect, the Swiss authors 
of this volinne did not for<^et that their first readers were to be the Swiss themselves. 
I'o my mind the occasioutil appearance of ttiis national view of what is primarily 
an international subfect oives reality as well as perspective to the an^nments of tliis book. 

The British Tilm Academy, London, April ig4S Roger Mauvcll 


THE FILM lis Economic, Social, and Artistic Prnhlems 


What is the Fihn ? 

what is the film? 

The film is 


The film is not 

photographed theatre 

Thejilm is 

a pictorial art 


Film and Theatre 

The film is not photographed theatre. The theatre has its principles; the film 
has its principles. 

If one compares the relation between the spectator and the picture in the 
theatre with their relation in the case of the fdm, the basic differences between 
the theatre and the tdm can be clearly seen. The theatre-goer always remains 
emotionally outside the stage action to a certain degree, while the film-goer 
is alternately involved and excluded by the motion picture drama; he stands 
in the midst of the action and is repeatedly forced to change his viewpoint. 
He has no time to be aware of the distance between himself and the action on 
the screen. The suggestive power of the theatre seldom goes so far as to blot 
out completely the distance between the spectator and the stage; for the 
theatre-goer the distance from the stage action remains, assuring objectivity 
as the guarantee of artistic experience. The film-goer is hardly able to consider 
the film ol jectivcly, that is to keep it away from himself— he experiences it 
as (photographed) reality. Therein lies the enormous suggestive power of the 
film, but therein also lies its enormous artistic danger. 

Film and Theatre 



Picture without motion 

Fixed distance 

between scene and spectator 

One-sided view 

Fixed viewpoint 
of spectators 
outside the stage space 

Picture in motion 

Changing distance 
between scene and spectator 

All-sided view 

Changing viewpoint 
of spectators 
in picture space 


Theatre pubhc: 

Greater internal distance 
to the stage action 

Film Public : 

Less internal distance 
to the picture action 


The public experiences 
theatre as an art 


The pubhc experiences 
film not as an art, 
as photographed reality 


Film and Paintino- 


By 1 800 painting had developed sufficiently to be able to give a representation 
of visible reality complete in every detail. Only one element of external real- 
ity was still unattainable: motion. Ingres' 'Monsieur Bertin' is sitting in his 
chair as a representation complete to the smallest detail — 'as if photographed' 
we would say today — but entirely motionless. 

Then around 1830 photography was invented, accomplishing exactly the 
same: it gave a completely detailed but motionless representation of reality. 
There is no difference in style between the portrait in the early period of 
photography and the portrait by higrcs: brush and camera strive for the 
same reproductive accuracy. 

At this point, when photography assumes the function of painting in ful- 
fdling the need for naturalistic representation, painting goes other ways. The 
Pleinairistes of 1840— 60 (Courbet and the masters ot Barbizon) and the Im- 
pressionists ot 1860—90 (Monet, Pissaro, Sisley) criticized Ingres' detailed 
naturalism which, they telt, did not catch the essence: the living in nature. As a 
result of their pedantic completeness his human figures appear unnatural, they 
said. In reality — outdoors — everything looks diftcrent. All the 'complete' 
detail is submerged tor our eyes, they maintained, in light, air and— move- 
ment. The Pleinairistes and, more radically, the Impressionists, intentionally 
give incomplete detail in their painting, but attempt to give a moving repre- 
sentation of visible reality. 

At this point, when painting cannot develop any further the representation 
o{ the one moving moment — the smallest motion such as the trembling of 
the air and the most vehement motion like that of a galloping horse — at this 
moment (after 1890) motion photography is invented: had to be invented, 
one is inclined to say! And again painting changes its direction, as if released 
from one task and turning toward another one ; namely the representation of 
invisible realities behind the visible reality; and therefore it develops a style 
emphasizing a form which renounces completeness of detail as well as the feeling 
for motion (Cezanne, van Gogh, Munch and others). Meanwhile the film gives 
us the complete and also the mobile representation of reality. 

This naturalism in the film, which also includes movement, is no longer a 
styhstic problem but a given technical condition, and is therefore a decisive 
pre-condition for all problems of film style. 

Film and Painting 

Paintino; bv 1 800 

gives a complete but motionless 
representation of reality 

Photography (from 1830 on) 

gives a complete but motionless 
representation of reality 

Painting from i860 to 1890 






fepll^'- m!^ 

u ^^S 

gives an incomplete but moving 
representation of reality 

The film (from 1 890 on) 

^. gives a complete and moving 
representation of reality 


From Single Picture to Reproduction 

The reproduction ot pictures is an undertaking which is necessary when wider 
consumer classes begin to create a demand for material and spiritual goods. 
At this point reproduction appears as an absolute need. 

So, corresponding to the appearance ot the Renaissance bourgeois state, the 
woodcut and copper engraving appeared. Corresponding to the age of the 
French Revolution, which was the second great step of democratization, i.e. 
expansion from the town to the country, new techniques of picture repro- 
duction were invented — as they had to be invented: lithography, xylography, 
autotype, and offset printing. 

From Single Picture to Reproduction 

The picrurc of the tcudal middle ages : 


existing in only one example 

fixed to the wall 


existing in only one example 

fixed to the book 

The picture of the democratic 

Renaissance : 

easel panning 

existing in only one cxampk 



reproducible to any extent 

After the French Revolution: 

increase in techniques of reproduction: lithography 

offset printing 

With increasing democratization 
With increasing reproduction 

increasing reproduction 

increasing need 

for democratic consumption 


From Single Picture to Reproduction 

Photography, the most important technique of picture reproduction of the 
19th century, also meant a democratization of pictures. The portrait, for 
instance, as long as it was produced by hand, was a privilege of the nobility 
and the wealthy middle-class, but thanks to the technique of photography the 
workers in the city and the peasants in the country could have portraits of 
their families taken. 

With the same historical necessity as the photograph, the cheap single por- 
traits of the people, appeared in the early 19th century, we fnid that at the end 
of the century, with the increasing dominance of the world economy over 
national economy, a technique of reproduction was invented whose character 
is international distribution: the fdm. It is the picture story of the people 
that can be reproduced as much as desired, but it is only cheap when the 
increasingly high costs of production are secured through an unlimited inter- 
national market. 

Thus the film is also a product of the great social process of democratization. 
This is not in contradiction to the fact that at the same time it can be used as 
an extremely effective anti-democratic instrument. For, although it still appeals 
to everyone, it is not in the possession of everyone. We sometimes take photo- 
graphs with our own cameras; we sometimes commission them. But at least 
the picture we commission belongs to us. With the film it is different: we are 
neither the direct commissioners nor the owners of the means of production 
of the film. Certainly the private owners of the means of production need us, 
for they depend on a most "democratic" market. But to maintain their 
position they must be against the consequent democracy. Against the radical 
democratic form of consumption stands the radical anti-democratic form of 
production. The film can become one of the strong anti-democratic instru- 
ments when the private owners of the means of production have not only 
economic power but at the same time political power; that is, when the 
totalitarian state itself becomes the producer. Then there is no anti-democratic 
instrument so dangerous as the film, because of the inherent demand of demo- 
cratic mass consumption. 

From Single Picture to Reproduction 

Photography is a creation of the democratic, early industrial, 

national economy of the 19th century 

Cheap production 

Cheap reproduction 

Cheap price, even though a small 

Small danger of undemocratic 



is a creation of the democratic, highly industrial, 
world econoiny of the 20th century 

Expensive production 
Expensive reproduction 
Cheap price, but only through 

largest market 
Great danger of undemocratic 



The Film as a Technique 

A favourite complaint against motion pictures is: the him is a technique, there- 
fore it is not an art. The truth is that art and technique are not irreconcilable. 
Surely other arts, wliich no longer have to prove their claim to be such, have 
their techniques also. For example, paintnrg. The techniques o{ painting 
correspcind exactly to the single work of art produced tor the single need; they 
are, therefore, very discreet, but they exist and limit artistic freedom with 
full justification and with definite stylistic consequences. The technique of 
the film correspcinds just as precisely to the reproducible work of art pro- 
duced for mass and world needs. Naturally in such a technical effort the art- 
istic risk is much greater. But this is only a risk to the film as an art, not a 
counter-argument against tilm art. 

The Film as a Technique 

Painting is 

also a technique 

not only an art 


not only a technique 


fcj:^:- - ^' , 

but also an art 

The artist dominates his techniques 

it he knows their characteristics and limitations 


The Costs of Production and Sale 

Before a film can he made today it must he 
financed. Therefore we shall discuss hclow 
the different economic problems of the film, 
which are at the same time sociolof^ical 

The film-i^oer — lihe every buyer of 
consumer goods — as a rule asks only: 
What does a seat in the cinema cost? And 
accordiiii^ to his fnancia! position lie buys 
a stall or a balcony seat. The production 
costs of the flm do not interest him. The 
k'l^endary flm kim^s may worry about 
this— he is not interested in it. It is true he 
thiiihs so little of the problems of flm 
fnancin<^ and their consequences [conse- 
<piences also for him. the small flm-sioer) 
that the flm producers can dare to use the 
gigantic production costs as propaganda : 
"This film cost fve million dollars!" 
ji, 000, 000 dollars — it nuist be a great 
film! If the film-goer knew how nuicli in 
human principles and artistic quality had 
to be sacrificed for this 'record sum , it 
would hardly be possible to use the high 
costs of production and the high salaries of 
the stars as publicity any longer. 

In other words: without kiuni'ledge of 
the contemporary economic structure of the 
film industry it is not possible to under- 
stand the film as an artistic and cultural 
phenonienon, as an artistic and cultural 
problem. There, in the specific economic 
structure of the flm lie its fantastic possi- 
bilities— but there also lie its fantastic im- 

Let us first ask very naively: What does the production of a fdm cost; And 
what is the relation between the production costs and the costs of sale? Their 
relation is particularly impressive when one compares the fdm, painting and 
the theatre, as we have done here in a very simplified manner. 

The decisive result of this comparison is as follows: the production costs of 
a painting arc incomparably less than the production costs of a tilm. Never- 
theless, from the consumer's standpoint a painting is much more expensive 
than a seat in the cinema. Only a tew can afiord to possess an original painting; 
everyone can afford to go to a him. But on the other hand the production 
costs of a film are so extraordinarily high that they require an incomparably 
greater number of consumers for their amortization than is necessary for the 
amortization of a painting or a theatre production. If one reahzes that for a 
Class A American movie an average of one million dollars is spent (distri- 
bution costs, theatre costs and profits of the producer not included!) then it is 
very clear that a film depends on unlimited mass consumption. 

The Costs of Production and Sale 

The production costs 
of a painting: 

of a t! 

icatrc presentation : 

yearly need of a painter 

number of paintings sold in a year 

yearly general operating expenses 
number of presentations in a year 

5,000. — 


1,000,000. — 




400. — 

3,000. — 

of a fiction film: 

1910 length 700 metres 

191 5 length 1000-2000 metres 

1920 length 1500-2000 metres 

1930 length 2400-2800 metres 

1940 length 2400-2800 metres 












sale costs 

of a painting: 

Fr. 400. — 



I picture 

of a tl 

leatre visit: 

Fr. 3. — 1000 theatre-goers 


I presentation 


a movie visit: 






















I fiir 

I fil 

I fil 

I filr 

I fih 



pure production costs 

without producer profit 

without distribution costs (abt. 30%) 

without movie theatre costs (abt.30%) 

Footnote : 

Current exchange rates of the Swiss franc: 

I pound sterling ^ Fr. 17.60 

I dollar = Fr. 4.31 


What causes increasing Costs? 

what causes incrcasint? Costs? 

Iiicrcasino; lcna;th of films 

1895: 16 to 20 metres 

today: 2400 to 2800 metres 

Increasing production time 

today : 

several days 
several months 

Increasnig specialization 


Improvement of equipment 
Enlargement of the production studios 
Increasing scale for decor 
Increasing wages of stars 

producer | 

director ; one person 

cameraman ) 

numerous specialists for the organizational 

artistic branches of production 

The sound tilm increased the cost ot production by so^'o 

The colour film increased the cost of production an additional so% 


Results of the Increase in Costs 

The increase in the costs of hhii production has led to miportant results for pro- 
duction as well as for the market. 

For production, it means that the studios can never rest; they have to be ex- 
ploited to a maximum. But because a film has to be made in the shortest pos- 
sible time, this means an increase in the quantity o( production — with the 
danger of overproduction. And it means further, since the market must always 
be ready to receive new hlms, an artihcial speeding up of amortization. 
The result for distribution, however, is more important: namely, an unlimited 
increase of the market. This can and must happen in two directions: horizontal 
and vertical. Horizontal: in the international distribution of the film; autarchy 
and nationalism contradict the character of the him. And vertical: in reaching 
all classes of the population; internationalism and democratization are an essen- 
tial need of the film. Already the fact that the film possesses a highly developed 
technique of reproduction leads to this consequence; its economic structure 
leads to the same consequence also. 

To increase the him attendance to a maximum, the film corporations make 
use of all modern means of propaganda: the press, radio, television and the him 
itself. Film propaganda is the most convincing expression of the unscrupulous 
development of the market and of distribution increase. 

Results ot the Increase in Costs 

The results of the increase in costs 

for production: Necessity of maximal exploitation of production studios 

of quantitative increase in production 
of the speed-up of amortization 

for the market: Necessity of international market 

of reaching all classes of the population 

hicrease of the market 

through advertising 


The Film ot Small Nations (Example: the Swiss Film) 

With the necessity for an international market the problem ot the him pro- 
duction of small nations is introduced. 

The film ot small nations, exactly like the film of all other nations, can only 
survive with an international market, i.e. by obtaining international interest. 
This does not mean the abandonment of national characteristics; Swedish and 
Czech films for instance prove the contrary. However, a forced, over-pronoun- 
ced nationalism is not less dangerous than a forced internationalism. Between 
these two dangers the tilms of small nations have only one chance: quality. 
Hollywood can successfully throw films of a poor quality on the world market ; 
the film of small nations can only count on international interest through 
especiallv high human anc4 artistic qualities. 

The f-rightening discrepancy between the income of a Swiss film from the 
home market and its cost ot production illustrates the situation strikingly. The 
entirely national success oi the only tilm produced in 1937, 'Fiisilier Wipf, 
made it the first successful Swiss film; it was supported by the awakening 
national self-conciousness of the pre-war years. On the basis of this success pro- 
duction increased rapidly to fifteen films in 1942. However, the market was 
already saturated, even over-saturated, and the crisis began. In the following 
years only very tew tilms were made. But of those, one film of 1944 ('Marie- 
Louise'), as well as the only tilm ot 194s ('The Last Chance') succeeded abroad 
because of their quality. 


The Film of Small Nations 

The film of small nations 

can only survive 

with an international market 

this means : with international interest 

International interest does not mean : 

abandonment of national characteristics 

IVlaintenance of national characteristics dots not mean: 


Average production costs of a Swiss film 

(withe ut general expenses and distribution costs) : 

Average income of a Swiss him from the home market: 

Deficit without possibility of export: 

Fr. 120-170,000. 
Fr. 80-130,000. 
Fr. 40,000. 

Number of films produced in Switzerland 

Year: 1934 1935 1936 1937 1938 1939 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945 1946 1947 
Films: i 001 4281215 521 i I 



The Mission of the Fihn 

1 1 

The Mission ot the Fihii 

The result of international market 

and of democratic consumption 

Id be 

could be 

the spreading of valid human ideas 

is today predominately: 

the exploitation of the wishtul 

thinking of the film-goer 

On what does this depend? It depends on the sponsor! 

1 1 


* Traaslaior's Xote : The word pro- 
ducer is used for two executives in the 
fihn industry, the financial sponsor 
and the studio executive directly 
responsible for supervising a film 
through its stages of production. It is 
the financial sponsor to which refer- 
ence is made in this section. 

Who is the Sponsor-: 

Why is the film as it is and not as it could be and should be; To answer this we 
must inquire about the sponsor. 

The sponsor o( the film, since 1920, has been the anonymous film trust, a 
purely financial enterprise which, because of its nature, pursues primarily com- 
mercial aims. The more expensive film production became, the more the film 
became a purely stock market concern: this can be illustrated by any American 
stock market report. Seen from the producer's* viewpoint, the fdm is merchan- 
dise, and as merchandise, it must bring a profit. To be profitable, it has to 
please as many people as possible. What pleases people; That is the crucial 
question for all film production. 

The American films of the 'thirties and 'forties show that prociuctions may 
sometimes have artistic and spiritual pretentions if they can still find their mar- 
kets. For this reason films can be produced which expose to criticism the eco- 
nomic and social situations on which film production itself depencis. hi such 
cases art, human sincerity and the criticism of society are never the real aim but 
only a means to secure the market. 

In some countries the state is the sponsor of the films. In this case it is im- 
perative to consider whether the film is used as a democratic instrument or as 
an anti-democratic instrument. By 1919 Russia had nationalized its entire film 
production. After the end of the Second World War, Poland, Czechoslovakia 
and Jugoslavia proceeded to nationalize their film industries completely. The 
film became a pronounced anti-democratic means of state propaganda in 
Fascist Italy and National-Socialist Germanv. 


who is the Sponsor? 

The sponsor of painting is 

in the Middle Ages the cliurch 

in the Renaissance the burgher 

in the Baroque period the sovereign 

in the 19th 

and 20th centuries the painter himself 

The sponsor of the theatre is 

in the Middle Ages the church 

in the Renaissance the burgher community 

in the Baroque period the sovereign 

in the 19th century the private theatre enterprise 

in the 20th century the company 

The sponsor of the film is 

around 1900 
around 19 10 
since 1920 

the showman 

the private film enterprise 

the anonymous tilm trust 

The sponsor of film 

has primarily 

not cultural 

but commercial interests 

For him film is merchandise 

The merchandise film must be profitable 

must be consumed by as many people as possible 
must please as many people as possible 

—What pleases people? — 

The film production — as speculation about the consumer — 

contains an extraordinarily high risk 

offers an extraordinarily high chance for profit 



Capital Investment in the Film Industry 

Unusually High capital investments arc characteristic oi the entire tilni nidustry. 
The results of the high capitalization of the film industry are : the rapid con- 
centration of invested capital, international interlocking of the great production 
companies, and an encroachment by the production companies on the pre- 
viously independent distribution companies and also on the movie theatres. The 
great production companies, especially the American, own distribution offices 
in all countries and assure the sale of their films by having their own movie 
theatres. Betore the Second World War more than two-thirds of the entire dis- 
tribution income was divided among hve powerful him trusts (Mctro-Gold- 
wyn-Mayer about 1 8 per cent, 20th Century Fox about 14, Paramount about 14, 
Warner Brothers about 14, R. K. O. about 9 per cent). These five companies own 
or control around 2600 movie theatres, among them most of the 'strategically' 
important hrst-run theatres. Similar developments can be recognized in other 
countries, especially in Britain. 

Outside these great concerns, the independent producers have a difficult 
position, especially since they depend on the theatres and the channels of 
distribution belonging to the large film combines for the amortization of their 
film costs. 


Capital Investment in the Film Industry 

The film industry demands exceptionally high capital investments 

Capital invested in the world film industry (in 1939): Fr. 13,500,000,000.- 

of this amount, from America: Fr. 9,225,000,000.- 

JVlovie theatres Fr. 8,550,000,000. 

Studios Fr. 562,500,000.- 

Distribution Fr. 112,500,000.- 

Results : Rapid concentration of film companies 

Dominant position of some large-capital film companies 
International interlocking of film companies 
Severe competition for the market fields 



Monopoly in the Film Industry 

The eight American production companies hstcd in the accompanying charts 
dominate the American and to a large extent also the world market. The whole 
film industry, concentrated in itself, is dominated by American banks and in- 
dustrial capital. The large banks determine the activities of the film companies 
by owning the majc~)rity stock, while the electrical industries, by owning the 
patent monopoly on the sound recording and projection machines, control the 
production and presentation systems. Finally the finance groups, dominating in 
turn the great banks and electrical industries, are much the same. The marked 
interlocking of capital and persons in industry and banks— the whole situation 
is of course much more complicated than the accompanying schemes show- 
explains the relaxation of competition and far-reaching collaboration among 
the leading American film companies. 


Monopoly in the Film Industry 

The film industry in its turn 

is dominated by financial capital 
i. e., bank and industrial capital 

Control of production 



Dillon, Read & Co. Lehman Standard A.H.Giannini 
Bros. Capital 

A.T. & T.G. 



■ Chase National Bank 

I Radio 

Radio Corp. City 
of America 

Paramount Warner 20th Cent. Fox Loew United Artists Universal Columbia Radio Keith Orpheum 

(M.G.M.) (R.K.O.) 

Control of the sound and projection machinery 


A.T. &T.C. . 


Chase National 

General Electric Co. 

Western Electric 


(R.C.A. Photophone) 

Paramount Loew Universal United Artists Warner 20th Cent. Pox Columbia R.K.O. 



Standardization oi Film Production 

Film production has to be profitable. The ctiect and success of a him, however^ 
are factors that cannot be defined. The higher the production costs, the higher 
the number of filmgoers necessary for amortization of a film and the higher 
the market risk. Therefore the market risk is the central problem of the deve- 
loped tilm industry. Economic measures taken to reduce the risk have already 
been discussed. 

But the sales risk also limits the artistic trecdom of the film creator. It 
produces die tear of the new, the unaccustomed, the truth. It leads to the 
production oi films that please everybody as much as possible, regardless of 
differences of nationality, allegiance and personal dispositions. It leads to 
standardization of the film production. 

The most obvious expression of standardization is the star, the public 
favourite, built up to assure stability in the sale of the films in which the star 
appears. For the same reason stereotyped film themes developed, dominating 
the screen by quantity (Wild West films, gangster films, musical revue films 
etc.). Standardization also shows in the series films, where the same actors 
appear in the same milieu and in the same parts ('Tarzan', 'The Hardy 
Family', 'Frankenstein', etc.). Theatre successes and best sellers, widely read 
magazine stories and favourite radio plays are filmed ('Rebecca', 'JMrs. Mini- 
ver', 'Gone with the Wind', etc.). Previously successful films are refilmed 
because renewed success seems to be guaranteed ('Thief of Bagdad', 'Lady 
Hamilton', 'Dr. jekvll and Mr. Hyde', etc.). In the year 1940 Hollywood 
producers paid over one million dollars for original stories and unpresented 
theatre plays, while for published stories and presented plays about three and a 
halt millions were expended! 


Standardization of Film Production 

The market risk 

limits the artistic freedom 

creates fear of the new 

leads to standardization of film production 

The star as a guarantee of success 

Stereotyped film themes 

Film serials 

Filming of successful novels and plays 



The Scenario 

Through the argiiniciits iv. the five main 
chapters, hiiaricirig— artistic production— 
distrihtition— presentation— coiisiii}iptioii— 
it will heconie clear that the film as 
an art, and more so than any other art. is 
very deeply involved in commercial pro- 
cesses. This is the great esthetic handicap 
of the film. But it also gives rise to a 
more fortutiate situation. Art in the fihn 
is no longer an affair of displaced bohe- 
mians, individuals on the border of so- 
ciety. Film art becomes part of the balance 
of power of tfie entire society owing to its 
economic importance. The desire of tfie 
past two hutidred years for an 'art for 
everybody seems on its way to fuffil- 
iiient, but is not yet fuffilled. Most films 
are still a compromise, not art. This is not 
a condition brought about by the film it- 
self, but by its economic and social circum- 
stances. Tfie production of a film is not yet 
entirely a human and artistic problem, hut 
in tfie first place an economic problem, a 
problem of marketing. 

The Scenario 

The scenario is not an independent branch of literature hkc the novel or the 
drama. It contains a hterary form in its dialogue, but nevertheless it is not an 
autonomous work of art. Also it is not readily 'presented' as is a stage play. 
It is only preparatory work, a preliminary to the film. It corresponds most 
closely to the direction-book ot the theatre director, but covers essentially more 
than this, namely the original action of the entire film, the dialogue and to a 
large extent even the sequence of the individual pictures or shots. 

Indeed there arc also theatre plays which are little more than scenarios. In 
particular, some modern plays are completed only in their actual presentation. 


The Scenario 


: nove 

is an independent work of art 
is read 

The drama 

is an independent work of art 
is read and presented 




■■ 'M- 

- ---4 

- ' \. ^^ 

' ■—------ 



The stage scenario The presentation 

is not an independent work of art is a secondary 

is not read independent work of art 

is a step between drama is an artistic interpretation 

and presentation of the drama 

The hhii scenario 

is not an independent work of art 

is not read 

is a prehminary step to the fdm 

The fdm 

is a primary independent work of art 



The Scenario 

The Picture-Score 

The him is a picture art; therefore the "picture-score' is the most essential part 
of the scenario. 

Reviewing the history of stage art from the classical theatre to the film, 
a general increase in the function of the stage picture is recognizable. 

The classical drama contents itself with the minimum of picture indications; 
the dialogue is absolutely dominant. The man speaking (in verse) dominates 
the picture, anci is in no way incorporated into the picture. This corresponds 
also to his spiritual relation to the surrounding world; he does not stay in the 
real 'milieu' but is sovereign in an ideal scene. 

Changes of scene are infrequent. This means that the recitation of continuous 
stretches of dialogue is not interrupted by pronounced picture dynamics. The 
change of scenes and acts does not make the whole dynamic; it builds it up, 
organizes it in static sections, between which recesses are introduced. 

In the 'naturalistic' drama at the end of the iQth century the importance of 
the picture increases strikingly. The picture indications extend into lengthy 
stage directions ; this already shows the drama giving some of its autonomy 
away to the staging. Even when the dialogue still dominates, the picture evi- 
dently assumes great importance. Man is spiritually, dramatically and visually 
incorporated in the real 'milieu' — this being the keyword of this movement. 

Scene changes happen more frequently than in the classical theatre. The 
static nature of the five acts is broken up into a sequence of pictures developing 
horizontally. In this way something epic, novel-like — something film-like, 
enters the drama. The 'epic' drama of modern authors (e. g. Bert Brccht) 
completes this development. 

In the film the relation is reversed. The picture indications are not only very 
complete, they are more important than the dialogue. Man is placed 
completely in the real milieu. When he leaves it, which means when he goes 
out of the picture, the film is exposed to an artistic danger. That this is the 
case in the majority of motion pictures does not change anything in the true 
character of the tilm. 

The picture is in unceasing movement. Camera and montage organize the 
film in a manner no longer vertical; there is no curtain falling; there are no 
'recesses' ; the horizontal, dynamic or epic principle is triumphant. Therefore 
the film (the scenario) is closer in its general organization to the novel (the 
epic poem) than to the stage drama. 


The Picture-Score 

Classical drama around 1800 

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niiniimnn picture nidication 
rare change of scene 
almost entirely dialogue 
man in an ideal scene 

'Naturalistic' drama around 1890 

detailed picture indication 
frequent changes of scene 
dialogue still dominates 
man in a real milieu 

Film Scenario 







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detailed picture indication 
rapid changes of scene 
picture dominates 
man in a real itiilicii 



The Scenario 

The Dialogue-Score 


The sentence 'The fihii is a pictorial art' is rehitively unproblematic for the 
silent hhn. It becomes problematic with the coming of the sound him. The 
great, even though involuntary, advantage of the silent film was the necessity 
to speak through optical means, through silent gesticulations. The sound him, 
with its spoken dialogue, may seem not to need the picture. And it can stress a 
fundamental law of the film: greater naturalness; spoken dialogue is more 
natural than gesticulation. But then dialogue is much more convenient; every- 
thing is easily dressed in words. The simplest way of conveying something is 
to express it in dialogue. So with the dialogue the film goes out of its element, 
the visual element, and becomes something else, hybrid, foreign to the film. 
The camera becomes only a means to the end ; it loses its artistic selt-conhdence. 
It photographs merely passively the actor with his dialogue. The dialogue talks 
the picture to death. 

But the solution is not just to eliminate the dialogue. The dialogue must be 
incorporated, indeed it must be made an integral part of the film. It will not 
then overshadow the visual aspect. It camiot be omitted from the picture; it 
must rather enrich the picture by blending with it. The picture must dominate 
human speech. But it is difficult to let the picture speak when men speak, since 
men speak louder and in clearer formulations, while the photographic picture 
speaks more 'between the lines'. Therctore one should try to let the characters 
speak 'between the lines' of the picture. This implies a specific dialogue style, 
a sound film style that only a few dialogue writers have mastered today. 

Dialogue is today the central problem ot the him, but always only as a foil 
for the film as a picture art. 


The Dialogue-Score 

In the drama: dialogue 

the essential bearer of action 
extensive dialogue 

In the novel : story in words 

the essential bearer of action 

extensive and short dialogue inserted in the word-story 

In the film: picturc-story the essential bearer of the action 

short dialogue inserted in the picture-story 

In the silent film 

Dialogue only through pantomime 

Advantage : strong visual quahty 
Danger : unnatural 

In the sound fil 

Spoken dialogue 

Advantage: natural 
Danger : weakening 

of visual quality 


The Scenario 

The Sound Effects Score 

Sound effects have a decisive advantage over dialogue; by their nature they are 
closer to the visual than to the acoustic. Nearly every optical event in reality is 
accompanied by sounds, which are, so to speak, an acoustic commentary on the 
event. Thus the sound effects are directly interrelated with the optical event. 
They do not counteract the visual, for, unlike the dialogue, the soimd effects do 
not live an autonomous life. Their sphere is the visual. 

The fdm as photography is always in danger of being exposed to visual real- 
ity with all its hazards and tormlessness. But it does not live or die by the sound 
effects. Therefore the sound effects mean an extraordinary enrichment for it. 
Here the film has an entire keyboard over which it can freely play. Here it can 
omit, select, or emphasize at its own free will. In reality we live in a chaos of 
sounds, in an enormous unceasing bedlam. But we do not hear this bedlam, we 
accustom ourselves to it and forget it; only in absolute silence arc we conscious 
of it. Merely a few sounds enter our consciousness distinctly, sounds we listen for 
or that surprise us. Even in reality therefore we select sounds. The film does the 
same thing, but much more intensively, while excluding the sounds we are 
accustomed to. Therefore, since the sound effects now appear on the basis of the 
absolute silence of the picture, they acquire more weight, intensity, expression, 
and at the same time the tension between the sound effects and the picture is 

Basically, film music has exactly the same function as him sound effects, only 
it is seldom conscious of these functions. Also the music has to derive from the 
picture, and therefore exist for the picture. But as in most films we must let the 
excess of sound effects pass over us, even more so must we let the excess of 
music pass us by. The music by itself is not bound to visual events. It is an 
absolutely free ingredient. It is tlierefore not sufficient that the film music is 
musically good. It has to be backed visually; it has to have visual power of 
expression. Also it must be one with the picture. Actually the picture does not 
need music, only musical sounds, economic musical support and accentuation. 
Within these limitations, the possibilities are inexhaustible: from the under- 
lying atmosphere through the sustaining rhythm to the expressive intensifi- 


The Sound Effects Score 

In the classical drama: 

infrequent use of sound effects 

In the 'naturalistic' drama: occasional expressive use of sound effects 

In reahty: 

chaotic sound effects 

yet most sound effects do not appear in the consciousness 

In the fdm : 

exploitation of sound effects appearing in the consciousness 

Film sound effects— as well as film music - 

illustrate movements 
dramatize actions 
intensify atmospheres 
symbolize feelings 
associate relations 



The Scenario 

The Scenario in the History of the Film 

The earliest tdms did not have an actual scenario as a basis, since they did not 
tell a unihed story. They were only a succession oi situation ideas. 

Since 1908 the titles between pictures appeared to assist the progress of the 
action; they were at the same time the first unspoken dialogue. Artistically they 
must be rejected, since they are an inorganic piece of narration. The fdm should 
tell everything in pictures. Certainly it should not show a weakness by 
recurring to methods that are obvious makeshift. But after all there are rare 
exceptions, where the text between pictures is artistically included; in many 
Russian tilms the titles become even an active element of montage. 

The sound tdm initiates, on the one hand, a decisive stage towards a greater 
reality, but on the other hand a catastrophic crisis for the picture. This crisis 
is actualh' still pending today. It is therefore one of the most important tasks 
of the film to develop, in intensive relation with the picture, the marvellous 
possibilities of human dialogue and sound effects. 

With the sound film a difficult problem arose, which can be partially com- 
pared to the text between pictures. It has a purely technical origin, but unfar- 
tunately it aflects the artistic aspects for the worse. Everyone, men of all lan- 
guages, could essentially understand the silent film. But the sound film must be 
translated. This is done by synchronization or subtitles. Both devices damage 
the artistic effect of a film very considerably. With a tew exceptions, one may 
state that as a rule synchronization is the greater evil, although it may seem that 
the film as a pictorial art would react more sensitively to subtitles. But a picture 
can equally be distorted by the acoustic effects, since dialogue and sound have 
an essential part in forming the picture as such. 


The Scenario in the History of the Film 

Silent film (1895— 1929) 
The earliest films 

are successions of events 

do not yet have unified action 

The scenario in the silent film is only a picture-score 

Sound film (since 1929) 

The scenario in the sound film is picture-score and sound-score 

The sound film brino-s 

a progress : 
a crisis: 

greater reality 

dominance of actor and dialogue 

decline of the pictorial discipline of the silent film 

The crisis of film art in the sound film 

is no argument against the art of the sound film 



Film Direction 

Film Direction 

The creator responsible for a film is the director. He has the general direction 
of all sections of the collective artistic work. Of course there are exceptions, 
when another collaborator gives a film his specific style; in rare cases the 
cameraman, in frequent cases the author of the dialogue, and very frequently 
the star, who most of the time, however, does harm to the tilni as such. In 
addition, in America the producer is often more influential in the control of the 
him than his director, who then acts only as a technician. 

The task oi the theatrical director is primarily the direction of the actors, and 
only secondarily the stage picture. Of course this relation changes from 
director to director and from play to play, and above all from the style of 
one period to another. 

The hrst task ot the iilm director, in contrast, is the picture direction with its 
two main sections: camera direction and montage. Good direction of the 
actors, which is, ot course, also of the greatest importance for the him, does not 
by itself make a good film. Only through the picture direction does the whole 
undertaking become a film. 

Since the functions of the film director include direction of the actors and 
direction of the picture, one should read the following chapter on the film 
actor and the film picture, so to speak, under the heading of Film Direction. 


Film Direction 

The theatre director 

is responsible for the presentation, not for the drama 
The presentation serves the drama 

The film director 

is the responsible creator of the film 

is responsible for the scenario and the presentation 

The scenario serves the presentation 

The task of the theatre director 

is primarily : direction of the actors 
is secondarily: direction of the picture 

The task of the film director is primarily: direction of the picture 

Camera direction 

Montage direction 

is secondarily: direction of the actors 



The Film Actor 

The Actor 

in the Theatre iii the Film 


The Actor 

ill the Theatre 

in the Fihn 

The art ot chc stage 
is an art of the actor 

The art of the screen 
is an art of the picture 

The stage cannot exist 
without actors 

The fihn can exist 
without actors 

On the stage 
only the actor acts 

In the tihn 

aU visible things act 

On the stage the actor 
is the bearer of words 

In the film the actor 

is the material of the pictorial language 



The Film Actor 

The Film Actor as Material of the Pictorial Language 

The tdm actor is material of the pictorial language. The film picture uses 
him, operates with him. It takes the actor as it needs him; it takes of him 
what it needs. It does not simply photograph him as bearer of the expression 
he himself has or acts, but gives him a new expression through the setting, light, 
camera movement and montage. This does not mean passivity for the actor, 
but on the contrary the highest effort — effort to integrate himself in the dyna- 
mic of the picture. 


The Film Actor as Material of the Pictorial LanQ;uao;e 

The film actor can be shown 


in full visibility 


in partial visibility 


en from below 

seen from above 



The Film Actor 

The Film Actor in the Picture 

There are exceptions to the rule of 'the hlni actor as material ot the pictorial 
language'. There are films which arc at least good histrionically, and only in 
this way. Nevertheless this remains a rule, less a factual rule than a rule in prin- 
ciple; it implies, therefore, less a rule than a postulate. 


The Film Actor in the Picture 

Many great actors 

do not tit in the picture 

such a tihii might be well acted 

but is bad as a fihn 

Many great actors 

fit in the picture 

such a film is well acted 

and good as a film 

Many small actors 

fit in the picture 

such a film is good 

— and that is what counts ! 



The Film Actor 

The Fihn Actor and Rcahty 

Although somewhat an overstatement, one is inclined to say: in the good actor 
humanity, life, everyday reality plays itself. This, of course, is only valid for 
the effect, not for the effort. The effect of the good, well-guided film actor must 
be absolute naturalness. His artistic effort is thereby not less than the effort of a 
classical actor or aiiv other stage actor. Therefore the non-professional actor, 
often praised as an ideal in film circles, is problematic. For it is not important to 
be a non-professional, but rather to give the impression of being one, and this is 
a question of the quality of the acting alone. 


The Film Actor and Reality 

In the ^ood film actor 





plays itself 



The Film Acto 

The Actor in the Development from the Theatre to the Film 

The difference between the 'pathetic' acting in the classical drama, the 'na- 
tural' acting in the naturalistic drama and the sheer natural 'being' ni the fdm 
can easily be seen by comparing the three pictures opposite, and this entirely 
without discrediting any ot the three attitudes. The three acting styles corre- 
spond to three different dramatic styles. The classical pathos is not to be inter- 
preted in a negative sense, but rather in the sense of 'stylized', 'exalted' 
acting, as the inner restraint of the actor of Antonio in Goethe's 'Tasso' proves. 
If one compares the performer of 'The Living Corpse' (Tolstoi) with the 
classical actor, he acts convincingly, naturally; but if one compares him with 
the film picture one will feel that he 'plays' naturalness; his acting implies a 
'pathos of naturalness' — as it corresponds, of course, to the naturalistic drama 
of LeoTolstoi. With the performers of "Grapes ofWrath' (John Ford) nothing 
at all reminds one of acting; they just seem to be; the camera treats their faces 
like any other kitid of object. It cuts them by its own will — but just through 
this means they obtain so strong an expression. But it has to be stressed again: 
this 'being' has to be acted too; this primarily means as strong an artistic effort 
as classical or naturalistic acting. 

The same difference is obvious in the three stage pictures opposite. The clas- 
sical stage does not have any life of its own; it is entirely dominated by the 
actor and by the words, the verse spoken by him. There is no milieu, but 
only ideal scenery. In the 'naturalistic' drama actor and stage find a balance; 
the stage is an intensive acting part, it absorbs man, becomes a \uilic\t full of 
life, becomes 'atmosphere'. But if one compares such a stage picture with a 
true film picture one suddenly hears human beings speak loudly in the stage 
picture and feels they still dominate the whole spectacle of the stage dramati- 
cally. Only the film picture is really entirely pictorial; only there does man 
become entirely material of the pictorial language. 

The Actor in the Development from the Theatre to the Fihn 

In the classical drama around 1800 

pathetic acting 

the actor dominates the stage 

In the 'naturalistic' drama 

around 1890 


ks^jfi^P / «»i. * 


nSm ■•"»*V 



natural acting 

actor and stage in balance 

In the film 

natural bcnn 

the picture dominates the actor 



The Film Actor 

The Actor in the Period of the Silent Film 

In its earliest period, around 1900, the hhii did not need the artist, as it did not 
yet pretend to be an art. On one hand, it was an object of scientific research 
(projection of movement) ; on the other hand, a fairground attraction. 

Only around 1910 did the film become artistically self-conscious. But it did 
not yet recognize its own artistic autonomy; it looked above itself and saw — 
the theatre. The first 'art films' were nothing else than bad versions of classical 
or modern plays. Great artists of the stage, like Sarah Bernhardt, Cecile Sorel, 
the entire Comedie Fran^aise, Herbert Bosworth and others were signed to act 
in hlms. 

But at the same time the first 'pure' film actors appeared. Characteristically, 
they rarely came from above, from the theatre, but most of the time from the 
variety show, from the small-time theatre, or directly from the street. On one 
hand, this is satisfactory because it is a development away from the theatre to- 
wards the film; it is seen in the fact that then the first real film directors 
appear. But on the other hand, this development introduces a new phenome- 
non : the tilm star. 


The Actor in the Period of the Silent Film 

Around 1900: 

The actors of the earhest films : 

the director 

his family, his friends 

the studio workers 

Around 1910: 

Competition with the theatre: 

filming of classical stage plays 
employment of great stage aitisis 


The first 'pure' film actors: 

do not come from above, 

from the theatre 

but from below, 

from the music-hal 
from the street 

Beginning of film star worship 




The Film Actor 

Standardization of the Actor 

An important development that appeared rather early, between 1920 and 1930, 
and after that increased considerably, is the gradual standardization of the film 
actor. This is the immediate outcome of the progressive commerciahzation of 
the film. It is not to be confused with the establishment of character types, deve- 
loped primarily in the old Russian hlms and also quite consciously emphasized 
today in other countries by important directors, hi the average film one does 
not sec this real character type, but standardized individuals, always acting 
nothing but their own individual self and never being more than average 
humans, patterns, cliches. The highest form of this standardized individualism 
is the star, in whom nevertheless all the negative characteristics of standard- 
ization may be combined with a great talent for acting. 

Nothing shows the level on which the film operates today more strikingly 
than this standard type of artist who is democratic in so far that he attracts mass 
consumption, but is anti-democratic and authoritarian in his influence upon the 


Standardization of the Film Actor (since 1930) 



"the" hero 

"the" cowboy 

"the" glamour-girl 

Standardization of acting in the film 

glorification of average types 

speculation on the wishful dreams of the little man 

of the little girl 
growing star worship 



The Film Actor 

The Actor in the Period of the Sound Fihn 


The Actor in the Period of the Sound Fihn 

Everything revolves around the actor 

the fihn 

the wishful dream 

the business 

Few directors 

master the rules of the film 

obey the rules of the film 

give the actor 

his outer restrictions 
his inner freedom 

in the picture frame 



The Film Picture 

Film and Realitv 

To suggest ail antithesis between direct representation and artistic creation is 
not entirely correct, because film representation is already a creative act. The 
camera possesses an extraordinarily wide range of creative possibilities, from 
the almost completely passive taking of pictures to the dramatized recreation of 
an event. This is illustrated by the two pictures opposite taken from the film of 
the Olympic Games. 

Since the film is a photographic art it is inseparably bound to visible reality. 
But by its very photographic nature it can transform reality. It always has to 
start from visible reality, but it can abolish the physical laws of reality, for 
instance, it can abolish the law of gravity ; it can subordinate the external factors 
of visible reality to other laws of space and time. Thus the film is always able, 
with the external elements of visible reality, to pass into the realm of psycho- 
logical events, of phantasy, dreams, oi the unconscious. It can be the suggestive 
instrument of a visual psychology. This transtormation of external reality into 
the sense of internal reality (and also internal unreahty) is one of the most 
natural potentialities of the him. There is need to mention but one great pioneer: 
Georges Mclies. After him the surrealists have widely exploited this possibility 
of the film. 


Film and Reality 

The film allows 

not only 

representation of reality 

but also 

Its artistic creation 

The film creates not only visible reality 

but al 


the reality of psychic events 

the reality of the dream 



The Film Picture 

Film Decor Theatre Decor — Film Decor 

An old adage calls the theatre 'the boards that represent the universe'. The 
theatre is not identical with the world. It does not represent it directly ; it implies 
the world, it symbolizes it, it styhzes it. Therefore stage decor does not have to 
offer an illusion ot reality (except for a 'naturalistic' play) ; it does not need to 
deny its character as decor; one is allowed, so to speak, to recognize that the 
setting is made ot cardboard. 

It is different with the film. Film represents reality, but as an artistic creation. 
It suggests reahty, but in an artistic way. This is less true of the time sequence 
(which does not correspond to reality) than of the picture, the photography. 
As a photographic art, the film depends on being real, or at least on seeming 
real. Therefore tilm decor must be real or at least appear real. 

The fict is that film decor that has the effect of unreality is legitimate in some 
perhaps particularly artificial films, that is, in films where something has to be 
expressed that is unreal or theatrical. The same thing is also true of period 
costume, which is basically not tilm-like; it cannot be absorbed by photo- 
graphy, although in certain circumstances it can be made extraordinarily film- 
like : when it stands for something contradictory, something sham, something 
antedated, even though it may be fashionable. In addition, stylized decor and 
costumes, in hlms that are intentionally unrealistic or surrealistic, may occasion- 
ally have an ironic justification. In every case, however, it requires an extra- 
ordinary mastery ot the tilm to make them acceptable artistically. 


Theatre Decor — Film Decor 

Stage decor may be recognized 


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The Film Picture 

Film Decor 

Decor in the History of the Film 

The earliest film decor consisted of theatre scenery of two dimensions. No 
matter how violent the movement might be, the scenery remained as a rigid 
background. Even in the work ot such an important film pioneer as Georges 
Melies this remained so. The 'art hlms' of 19 lo are nothing more than filmed 
theatre productions. They are played entirely on the stage. D. W. Griffith, how- 
ever, filmed outdoors. 

hi 1914 the spectacular film 'Cabiria' was produced in Italy. In it the two- 
dimensional theatre sets were replaced by three-dimensional buildings. But 
their character as artificial settings was not lost. The spectacular period style of 
this film was influential chiefly in America, where one film after another tried 
to outdo it in the scale and splendour of its settings. 

Expressionism provided an interlude around 19 18, mainly in Germany. 
'The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari' is representative. The expressionistic style 
does not fit in with external reality, but it suits cardboard scenery well enough, 
since it can be designed freely for expressive purposes. It was not recognized 
that this method of expressive design is contrary to the character of the film. 

Today the film has three possibilities: studio work, film architecture built in 
the open and natural landscape. In principle the decor problem is solved: the 
film sets must be real or at least look real. This naturally does not imply the 
absence of any further problems in film decor: each film has its own individual 
problem to solve. 


Decor in the History ot the Fihii 

Since 1925 

In the beginning 

two-dimensional theatre scenery 

Since 1914 

three-dimensional buildings 

historical spectacular productions 

in Italy and America 

After 19 1 8 

'expressionistic' cardboard scenery 

Studio decor 

Outdoor sets 

Natural landscape 



The Film Picture 

The Set-Up 

The Set-Up 


The Set-Up 

The set-up is the choice of the photographic picture frame 

It is tlic elementary action in taking photographs and pictures 

It forces 

photographic technique 

to serve art 



The Film Picture 

The Set-Up The Basic Set-Ups 

The functions of the three characteristic and basic set-ups: k:)ng shot, close shot 
and close-up are not exhausted by the pictures and text on the opposite page. 
The reversed sequence or the absence of any sequence at all creates a com- 
pletely different effect. There are no universal rules here; the individual case 
determines the effect. 


The Basic Set-Ups 

The long shot 

leads into the scene 

The close shut 

increases tension 

The close-iip 

concentrates interest and attention 

to an extreme 


le transition can be continuous 





The Film Picture 

The Set-Up 

The Close-Up 

Among the basic set-ups tlie close-up rightly enjoys a place of artistic privilege. 
It is the psychological microscope of the film. But it is also a means of obtaining 
the inost dramatic possible effects. This depends entirely upon how it is used. 
It was developed tuUy by Griffith and the Russians. Since then it has become 
part of the usual tihn vocabulary of the average director. But again and again 
it proves to be the 'miracle' of him art. 


The Closc-Up 

The close-up is the miracle of film art 

It brings things nearer to us 

It brings men nearer to us 

It reveals the most intimate structures 

It reveals the most intimate emotions 

It dramatizes the action 



The Film Picture 

The Sct-Up 

Various Set-Ups 

The possibihtics of fihn expression by means of camera set-up are not exhausted 
by full view, partial view, view from above and below, diagonal view and so 
forth. They are unlimited. Only in each individual case are they revealed. In 
addition, one cannot consider them statically, but only when they arc combined 
with all the possibilities of movement, which again are unlimited. 


Various Set-Ups 

The set-up seizes things in 

full view 

partial view 

view from above 

view from below 

diagonal view 



The Film Picture 

The Set-Up Space 

A hnidamcntal concern of the set-up is the creation of space. The fihn is a two- 
dimensional art; it translates space into a single plane, into the limited plane of 
the screen, but without giving up spatial illusion. Thus, different perspectives 
result, all of which can be exploited artistically: selection from space, space per- 
spective, spatial overlapping, etc. They are the same effects the painter uses. But 
in the fdm one has to consider movement again ; here space itself is always in 
movement. And allowing also for the montage, one gets to realize how the film 
is able consciously to create space. The unity of the space in which we live is 
altogether abolished. 

An important advantage possessed by the film over its kindred art, the theatre, 
IS that the film artist can dispose of space in free creation. Stage-space does not 
allow nearly as much creative range — from the microscopic section to the 
widest horizon. Its possibilities of movement arc actually very limited. But, 
above all, stage space suffers from a very great disadvantage : it is not related to 
one spectator, every spectator has his own perspective. Any possible considera- 
tion of spatial effects by the director is cancelled out by the variety of the 
audience's viewpoints. The film picture knows only one point of view, the eye 
of the camera, to which the eye of every spectator corresponds. Therefore 
through the eye of the camera picture space is dominated absolutely by the 
intention of the artist. 



The set-up represents space in the plane of the picture 

Important means of expression are therefore: 

space perspective 

selection from space 


may be pictured as space 


may be dramatized as an experience 



The Film Picture 

The Set-Up 


Light is an essential means ot expression in the tilni. The film picture originates 
in the clement of light. The picture in the black-and-wliite film particularly 
depends on hght, reacting most sensitively to it. Light lends itself to the strong- 
est effects as well as to the most delicate nuances. 



Light sensitivity is a main characteristic of film material 

Light is therefore an essential means of expression m tilm art 

Tt builds up the picture 

It creates contrasts 

It forms delicate transitions 

It dramatizes action 



tjatikt Jul Sl«ill'» "«* "*" S^reci::. 
& W l«(tiJWIn«iWI. 



The Film Picture 

Movement in the Film 

In contrast to the still picture, move- 
ment is the decisive characteristic of 
the film picture. The film is born of 
movement. Movement as such was 
the first sensation it offered. 

The movement of the film can only 
be described by means of the film it- 
self, it cannot be described in a book. 
All that has been said here about the 
actor in the picture, about the set-up, 
about space, about light, should not be 
visuahzed statically, as it referring to 
the still picture, but rather dynami- 
cally, referring to the picture in mo- 

We distinguish three basic forms of 
film movement: movement within 
the picture, movement of the picture 
itself, and movement from picture to 
picture, which is the montage. Yet 
movement in the film is not ex- 
hausted by these three basic forms. 
First, combinations of the three fun- 
damental types of movement are not 
merely possible, they are indeed the 
rule. Further, they indicate only the 
outer frame, within which the un- 
ending nuances of movement take 
place. These cannot be summarized in 
an equation. For the film artist, the 
problem of film movement begins 
within this commonly agreed frame- 

Movement in the Picture 

The conveyers of movement in the picture are men, animals, vehicles, and 
animated objects. Its expression depends primarily upon its speed and direction 
in the picture. Thus, for instance, a movement away from the spectator in the 
picture space means: reduction of size, reduction of speed, reduction of tension. 
Or the opposite movement gives the opposite effect. It is at the same time rele- 
vant whether the movement is rapid or slow, smooth or abrupt. But these are 
only the most elementary, the most ordinary differences of effect. Even the 
smallest twitch of a hand or the lightest play of the wind in a curtain can be full 
of infinite expression. Mostly it is just these unique movements, which cannot 
be summarized in words or equations, that determine the momentary expres- 
sion in a film. 


Movement in the Picture 

The activity of a movement 

depends upon its speed and direction in the picture 

Movement into space: 

reduction of size 
reduction of speed 
reduction of tension 

Movement out of space: 

nicreasnig size 
increasing speed 
increasing tension 



The Film Picture 

Movement in the Film 

Movement of the Picture 

Movement of the picture itself occurs through movement of the camera. As 
long as only the objects in the picture move it is not the camera that deter- 
mines the movement (or only in so far as the picture set-up gives to the move- 
ment an expression of its own) ; it is therefore not yet actual film movement. 
The movement of the camera transforms the picture continuously, it may be 
to the right, to the left, up, down, toward an object, away from an object, back 
and forth between two speaking people, quick, slow, etc. Here, also, only a 
bare outline can be indicated ; the possibilities are inexhaustible. 


Movement of the Picture 

Movement of the picture occurs through the movement of the camera 

The 'wandering' camera 

accompanies the event 

The camera distance to an object can be 

maintained: equal tension 

enlarged: decrease of tension 
shortened : increase of tension 



The Film Picture 

Movement in the Fihn 

Movement from Picture to Picture = Montage 

In movement from picture to picture, that is in montage, one picture does not 
merge into another, i. e. the picture does not change continuously, but rather 
different pictures occur in sequence. A sequence of pictures, which of course 
can possess the two basic forms of movement mentioned before, is spliced 

The process of film montage consists of cutting the single, continuously taken 
fdm and joining it together in a new sequence. (Montage is used here in its 
original meaning before it was narrowed down to a technical term indicating 
a number of shots required for an impressionistic bridging sequence.) 

The montage is done by the cutter, usually under the supervision of the 
director. It can be almost entirely predetermined in the scenario. 

The accompanying pictures, which only show the most important principles, 
give some idea of the wonderful possibilities of montage. 


Movement from Picture to Picture = Montage 

Film montage means: 

splicing together of different pieces of film 

Film montage means: 

cutting the film 
and joining it 

Film montage can be contrasting: 

single cut 

Film mcintage can be gradual : 

through fade-in 




The Film Picture 

Movement in the Fihii 


Montage organizes the film into large and small sections. No curtain comes 
down as in the theatre; montage achieves this directly. Not only are the large 
sections put together, but every little scene receives its unique organization 
through montage. The ploughing of an acre (from 'Mother' by Pudovkin) is 
not shown in its entire continuity, but only in its most important moments, and 
in this way becomes an intensive experience. The dance rhythm of the unfor- 
gettable dancer in Rene Clair's Entr'acte was immediately transposed into 
film-like dance rhythm through montage. 



A wcU-actcd and wcll-pliotographcd film is not by this alone a good film 
It is the montage that completes the film 


organizes the action 

gives rhythm to the changing picture 



The Film Picture 

Movement in the Film 

Time Creation through Montage 

A tilm is shown in about two hours. It represents events of more than two 
hours, perhaps of a decade or a century. Film time thus has its own measure; 
it is not identical with real time or with represented time. In the time of two 
hours (real time) it represents a time span of much more than two hours 
. (represented time). Thus it affords, so to speak, a concentration of time. 

Montage as'tmie creation does not seem to be different fro-m the theatre, 
but in reality the differences are quite important. The theatre also represents a 
much longer time span in a few hours, but there is no real concentration of 
time. Only now and again the curtain falls — and an entirely new time section 
begins ; its duration is identical with the real time it takes to show it. Time does 
not shift, as in the film from picture set-up to picture set-up, quickly pulled 
ahead from second to second. Above all one does not experience the break 
between scenes or acts. What montage is to the film, the recess is to the theatre- 
something entirely different. 


Time Creation throus-h Montac^e 


cuts represented time into sections 
joins time sections to one another 

Thus it interrupts the continuity of time 

it relates separate time spaces: 'while in Paris ... in Nizza' 

'a hundred years ago . . .' 
'two years later . . .' 

It creates tmie not as a sequence. 

but as an experience 

Dynamic montage 

= concentrated time experience 
= tension! 



The Film Picture 

Movement in the Film 

Space Creation through Montage 

Montage destroys not only the unity of time but also the unity of space. From 
picture to picture the spectator is torn from cine spatial perspective to another, 
from one spatial dimension to another. Our space perception, basic to our 
entire perception of life, is constantly and ruthlessly attacked. Contemplative 
recognition, such as the recognition of the picture space of a painting or the 
space of the stage, is not possible. Just as montage does not depict time as a 
sequence, but dramatizes it as an experience, so it also depicts space not as a 
situation, but as a dynamic experience, a concentration of space. 


Space Creation through Montage 


cuts represented space into sections 
joins space sections to one another 

Thus it interrupts the continuity of represented space 
it relates separate spaces 
it creates space not as a situation 

but as an experience 

Dynamic montage 

concentrated space experience 
tension ! 



The Film Picture 

Movement in the Film 

Creation of Associations through Montage 

Montage not only creates time and space. Sometimes the film, with the help of 
montage, leaves these dimensions and enters an entirely different, a psycho- 
logical and spiritual dimension. 

One can define montage as an association, a joining of pictures. A natural 
task of montage is, therefore, the creation of psychological associations. With 
this, the film wins a wider, endlessly fertile field of possibilities for expression. 

The impressivcness of montage is inevitable. For example: the stone head 
of the Czar with his eyes on infinity — the coat of arms of the almighty state — 
the inhuman head of the judge with his eyes on the law book — the desperation 
ot the mother ot the condemned man. ('Mother' by Pudovkin.) 

In addition there is sound association, which can emphasize the extraordinary 
impressivcness of picture association (through words, sound effects, music). 
This should not be confused with sound montage, through which sound not 
directly related to the picture is fused with the image, entering into a definite 
relation with it. Sound montage is not a problem ot the picture but a problem 
of sound itself 

Associative montage is, consciously or unconsciously, employed in every 
film; but one can go very far with it. It became a real creative principle in the 
surrealistic film. Here montage based on purely psychological association re- 
places montage based on space, time and even rational causality. It is no longer 
perceived consciously but only unconsciously. (The danger here of over- 
consciousness, of a pronounced intcUectualism is very great.) 


Creation of Associations through Montage 


cuts different association sequences 
joins pictures trom different association sequences to one another 

Thus it brings the different association pictures 
not in temporal 
not in spatial 

but in emotional or rational relation 

Montage is the film's means of 

creating associations 



The Film Picture 

Tricks in the Fiction Fihn 

As a photographic art the fihii remains within the hmits of visible reality, that 
is, within naturalism. Its artistic means of creation are bounded by this natura- 
hstic framework. This remains true even though the film has the capacity, 
through tricks, to abolish the existing laws of visible reality, for instance the 
law of gravity. Tricks are a specific film technique, a specific photographic tech- 
nique. Their material is always external reality. They do not entirely abolish 
external appearances, but only their physical laws. For example: hats remain 
hats, but suddenly they have the abihty to fly. The transference from the laws 
of visible reality to the laws of the film celluloid is nowhere so obvious as in 
trick work. It is no accident that the film discovered tricks very early; through 
them it can freely enjoy the pure playfulness of the film. But from these merely 
playful possibihties the film developed the potentiality of rendering psycho- 
logical events photographically, even to the extent of abandoning the rational 
entirely (as in the surreahstic films). 

These technical refinements of the film can create the most 'artistic', 'poetic' 
or 'musical' eflx'cts. And thus the film can develop into an art through its 


Tricks in the Fiction Filn: 

Abolition of natural laws 

Inanimate objects move 

Aspects of the world arc transformed 

Sohd bodies are penetrated 

Intention: play and rhythm 

imagination and dream 
phantasy and fairy-tale 



The Film Picture 

The Animated Fihii 

The Popular Animated Film 

The animated tdm has nothing to do with tricks in the hvc-action fdni. It 
is not related at all to the live-action film, since it does not photograph 
external reality but creates a new reality graphically. When it attempts to 
reproduce reality 'naturalistically' it is artistically insupportable. This danger 
is least in the pure black-and-white animated film because of the Litter's innate 
abstraction. It is greatest in the animated film with sound and colour, where 
it is able to coine much clos6r to visible reality by its pictorial means. In 
the animated film abstraction is not only a technical necessity, but — because 
of Its capacity tor naturalism — an artistic and stylistic necessity. 


The Popular Animated Film 

The animated film is not a copy of reality: 

it obeys its own laws 

Animated film, black-and-white 

Animated film, half-tone 

Animated film, coloured 



The Film Picture 

The Animated Film The Abstract Film 

The abstract tilin works by graphic means or with light. Among the work 
of the different authors of abstract iilms (Man Ray, Moholy-Nagy, Walter 
Ruttmann, Hans Richtcr, Oscar Fischinger) the 'Diagonal Symphony' of the 
Swedish painter Viking Eggeling (1880— 1925) is the most perfect. 

Walt Disney's iilm illustration of Bach in Tantasia' is a very problematic 
example because of its indecisive use of both abstraction and naturalism. 


The Abstract Film 



The Film Picture 

The Film Picture in the History of the Film 

The history of the him picture is the history of the film. It cannot be presented 
ill a few words. One should mention here all the great film directors, some 
important cameramen, and the best films in the history of the cinema. 

Until 1910— 15 the film had not evolved as a picture art. It hardly knew its 
own methods. The camera stood in its place, unmoving and unparticipating, 
and passively caught even the most violent movement. 

Around 1910 there appeared — in the 'art film', with the developing artistic 
self-confidence of the film — the photograplied stage picture, and thus the birth 
of the true film picture was impeded. 

By 1915 D. W. Griffith had developed the moving camera, that is the 
camera set-up as an elastic means of expression. Now the camera began to 
move around objects, photographing them from all sides, accompanying 
events, following them, avoiding them, and so forth. 

Montage and the close-up make their appearance very early. The great 
Russian directors first began in the twenties to use them as a decisive method 
of expression in the film. 

In the period from 1923 to 1929, the classical period of the silent film, the 
better European productions developed an extraordinary film picture disci- 
pline. The innovations of the Russian, the German and French avant-garde 
films, as well as the tirst British documentaries became common artistic pro- 

The sound film caused a catastrophy. Dialogue depreciates the film picture 
and over-emphasizes the film actor. The level suddenly dechned. JVIass pro- 
duction utilized such film innovations as the close-up, montage, tricks, etc., but 
it banalized them, in that it either did not exploit them at all or merely repeated 
them to death. Very few film directors differentiated them, developed them 
further, combined them with the new laws of the sound film. 


The Film Picture in the History of the Film 

Until 191 5 Sensation of photographed movement 

Sensation of film tricks 
Uninoving camera 

By 191 5 D. W. Griffith develops the moving camera 

After 1923 The Russians developed the close-up and montage into the 

most important means of expression of film art 

1923— 1929 Classical period of the silent film 

Avant-garde film in various European countries 

Since 1930 Mass production utihzes the innovations and banalizes them 

Some important artists differentiate them 



The Film Picture 

The Fihii does not stand alone ! 

Fihn and Modern Theatre 

The fihn is not only part of the econo- The closeness o( the 'naturahstic' theatre at the end of the last century to the 
mical and social, but also of the artistic film, which was invented at the same time, has already been mentioned several 
scene. It has its preliminaries and its times. Since then the modern, avant-garde theatre has developed away from 
parallels in all other arts, primarily in the film, that is away from the iiiilieii and toward reahstic or idealized sty- 
the visual arts: theatre, painting and hzation; meanwhile the tilm has taken over the milieu. But at the same time 
photography. the theatre has drawn towards the film: the modern theatre uses the pictorial 

clement and even picture movement much more than the theatre of lyoo or, 
more obviouslv, that ot 1800. The stage itself became mobile; the scenrey be- 
gan to move. The static five acts, by which the classical drama had stood, were 
abandoned in favour of a romantic, epic or film-like kind of continuity. Fre- 
quently the scene change on an open stage replaced the interval, a certain 
acceptance of film-montage. The spot-light intervened emphatically in the 
play. The actor is no longer paramount; he is object, and material for the 
theatrical picture language. 


Film and Modern Theatre 

The modern theatre 

develops in its style : away from the film 
away from the milieu 
toward realistic or idealized styhzation 

in its means: toward the fdm 

The stage itself adopts movement: flexible stage 

flexible scenery 

The spotlight has an expressive function 

Abandonment of the static principle of the five acts 



The Film Picture 

The Fihn does not stand alone ! Film and Modern Painting 

Just as it has its place in the history of the theatre, so the film also has its place 
in the history of the fine arts. From whatever aspect one may examine the film, 
it is always obvious that it had to come. 

Around 1870 impressionism brought movement into painting. It ended at 
the moment when the pictorial presentation of movement could be achieved 
in a technical way, that is when the film was invented. 

In the early expressionism ot Van Gogh, Munch, Toulouse-Lautrec, Bon- 
iiard, Vuillard and others one frequently encounters angles of perception that 
have something definitely 'tilm-like' about them. Of course there is no direct 
influence of one medium on the other, but one cannot overlook a general 
relation in style. The 'set-up' is strikingly employed in early expressionist 

In cubism, futurism and dadaism, the montage (collage) is a passionate game 
and at the same time a formal self-education. A whole generation of artists 
went to work with scissors, cut whole newspapers, photographs, wall- 
papers, matcliboxes and other things to paste together for pictures. The effect 
on the film is direct: many ot the film avant-gardists made picture montages 
tirst for themselves. The juxtaposition of materials above and alongside each 
other in graphic montage becomes a juxtaposition in time in film montage. 

The so-called 'neo-objectivism' (since 1920) discovered, together with photo- 
graphy, the magic of inanimate objects. The 'photographic' itself becomes 
a style in painting; it also appears in this manner in the work of some sur- 
realistic painters. 

Surrealism — in principle similar to the film — creates invisible reality (or also 
invisible unreality) by means of visible reality, which means naturalism. It has 
its direct parallel in the surrealistic film. 


Film and Modern Painting 

Film-like compositions 


Magic of inanimate objects 

The invisible conveyed by means of 
visible reality (surrealism) 

.-■5- :*■»-/'.', 



The Film Picture 

The Fihn does not stand alone ! Film and Modern Photography 

Still photography is the step directly preliminary to the film. In the 'twenties 
the trend of modern photography, the 'new photography', revolted against 
the traditional conception of photographic technique limited by the academic 
rules and prohibitions. The angle ot view was freed and thus became the most 
essential means of expression of still photography. Light and shadow, the basic 
facts of all photography, were recognized as such, were confirmed and artisti- 
cally exploited. Photography became the enthusiastic discoverer of the 'magic 
of inanimate objects'. Photomontage, superimposition, double exposure and 
all other possible photographic experiments that were important in the avant- 
garde film characterized the 'new photography'. 


Film and Modern Photography 

Photography was prchminary to the fihii, and influenced it. 

Traditional photography 

^^r •■'*' 


only horizontal viewpoint in relation 

to object 


'new photcL^raphy' 

M' * l^S^SSB^ photography 

magic of inanimate objects 

•385 V 


a free angle of viewpoint 
light as the basic element of 







After the artistic production of the fh)i is Between 1905 and 1910, as a result of increasing production, i.e. as a result of 
completed the film is ready for distri- the increasing supply of films, the direct sale of films was replaced by inter- 
hiition and finally for exhibition. Noiv mediate sale. The concentration of film production in a few towns, and the 
it must prove whether it is fit or unfit mushroom-like growth of stable cinemas in all the countries of the world 
^5 merchandise: whether it pleases — brought a rapid increase in the number of independent film dealers. 
whether it is profitable. In order to secure a more permanent part of the film profits, the film pro- 

ducer, in view of the steadily increasing production costs, replaced direct sale 
by the rental of films by about 191 o. 

The next step was that producers with large capital resources encroached 
upon distribution (and the film theatres). Distributors hitherto independent 
therefore became agents for the film companies. This phenomenon is not re- 
stricted to the film ; one can observe it in other industries also ; e. g. every large 
shoe factory has its own retail stores; the shoe dealer, previously independent, 
now becomes the employed manager of a branch store. 



Around 1900 

Direct sale of films from the producer to picture theatres (travelling cinemas) 


Beginning of independent film dealing 

The producer sells the film to the dealer 
The dealer sells the film to the exhibitor 

By 1910 

Beginning of independent film distribution 

The producer sells the film to the distributor 
The distributor rents the film to the exhibitor 

Already since 19 10 

Encroachment on distribution by the producer 

Independent distribution becomes a dependent branch of the production company 



Blind Booking and Block Booking 

Widi the increasing capital needs of film production, certain distribution me- 
thods developed, among which in particular were blind booking and block 
booking. Because of this the theatre owner's free selection of fdms is very 
restricted, and he runs the danger of contracting for more films than he will 
be able to afford. 

That such practices are not beneficial to the standard of film production is 


Blind Booking and Block Booking 

The producers 

frequcndy do not liave the necessary capital for tlie film production 

They make the distributors give them credit for the capital that is lacking 

The distributors split the risk involved among the exhibitors 

and in this way rent the films before or during production 

The exhibitors 

are therefore often forced 

to rent films that they camiot see in advance 

=^ blind booking 

or arc forced 

to rent an entire series of films among which there may be, in addition to the 

attractive films, less attractive ones 

= block booking 

Blind booking and block booking are results of the high capital needs of production 
They split the risk and secure the sale 



Limitation of the Circulation Time of a Film 

A him may be very good, but after five years it has to disappear from general 
consumption. So wills the Moloch film industry. And it accomplishes this in 
a reckless way; after five years the copies are destroyed. This is done regardless 
of whether it is an average mass product or a film work of art of the highest 
rank. Re-showings of old films are thought undesirable and only become 
possible with great difficulty. The reason for this evil lies ultimately in the fact 
that the film is not sold but only distributed. One cannot buy a film that is out 
of circulation as one can buy another work of art, for it goes back to the pro- 
ducer, who, as the owner of the film, has the right to destroy it. 

As a matter of fact there is also limitation of circulation time in other fields 
of contemporary production. Thus the hfetime of all fashion articles (clothing, 
hats, shoes) is artificially shortened by the poor quality of the material em- 
ployed and 'dernier cri' propaganda, in order to free the market for new 

Other works of art and cultural documents arc prcscrvcci in museums and 
private collections, but films have to be destroyed after a few years. Because of 
this culturally fatal situation film archives have been set up in various coun- 
tries to preserve prints of the most important films that have been withdrawn 
from circulation. When these films can no longer be explciited commercially, 
they can still serve to educate students of film art, as well as for scientific ana- 
lysis of the film and for the purposes of history, sociology, psychology and 
natural science. The more the film progresses, and the more it reveals its 
specific film history, the greater becomes the importance of these scientific 
film institutes. 


Limitation of the Circulation Time of a Film 

To keep the market eager to consume the circulation time of a film must be limited 

After five years the copies are normally taken out of circulation and destroyed 

so that the need for new merchandise is constantly present 

so that newly produced films find a continuous market 

so that the expensive production machine can work continuously 

Only because the tilm is merchandise in its contemporary economic structure 
is this reckless destruction of film works of art possible 

The film archives in the different countries 

collect films taken out of distribution as artistic 




natural scientific documents 



Exhibition : The Cinema Theatre 

In a few decades luxurious cinemas developed from the prinntive tairground 
dieatres. While the travelling cniema offered amusement only for the lower 
classes ot the population, the modern cinema offers amusement for the whole 
population. To get the upper middle class accustomed to going to the theatres 
and to becoming consumers of the commercial film, balconies are built above 
the stalls. At the same time comfort increased, not only effective comfort (good 
seats, good acoustics, ventilation, air conditioning, etc.) but also imaginative 
comfort, interior decoration. So the film went the opposite way from that of 
most other industrial products — (the car, the refrigerator, the vacuum cleaner), 
it moved not from above to below but from below to above; the 'nickel- 
odeon' became the Picture Palace. The decorative style of the picture palace, 
more highly established socially, reffects glamorous bombast and pseudo- 
historical splendour, although a clean modern architecture would correspond 
to the real character of the him. 

In addition to the cinema theatres established in the towns, the him is also 
advancing into more and more remote places, in the form of small static cinemas 
or mobile cinemas. The rapid advance of the sub-standard film in recent years 
was of great importance in this respect. 


Exhibition : The Cinema Theatre 

Until 1906 

The travelling cinema 

primitive fairground theatre 
continuous change of location 
cheap admission 

After 1906 

ii/ II . I HI 

The permanent cinema theatre ^^^ 

in stores and cafes 

no change of location 

continuous change of public; 

rapid change of programme 

cheap admission 

From 19 10 to the present time 

Development toward 

the modern picture palace 

longer programmes; 

fewer performances a day 

little change of public; 

larger seating capacity 

increasing comfort 

nicrcase and differentiation of 

admission prices 

Increasing specialization of the cinema theatres: 

Distinction between first-run theatres and second-run theatres 
Specialization in definite types of films 



Substitute for Reality! 

Properly speaking one should assume — An occasional flight from reality, a temporary forgctfulncss oi their normal 
atid perhaps the naive film-goer does Hfe, is for most people an urgent need. The pseudo-reality of the film offers an 
assume it — that all this technical, finan- illusory satisfaction for their repressed social and erotic desires. But the illu- 
cial and artistic effort occurs exclusively sion passes rapidly, and afterwards the disillusion caused by real life imposes 
for the benefit oj the film-goer, the con- itself with double strength. 
sumer of the merchandise film'. That 
this is not the case and why this is not the 
case has been thoroughly demonstrated. 

A good deal of responsibility for the 
standard of the film as it is today must he 
borne by the film-goer himself, or rather 
by the social conditions in which the great 
mass of film-goers find themselves, and 
from which definite psychological atti- 
tudes in the individual result. Therefore 
one cannot speak of guilt in an ethical 
sense, since this assumes the possibility of 
a freely responsible decision. But whoever 
lias spiritual freedom from the psycho- 
logical pressure oj his social conditions is 
also free from the pressure the film pro- 
duction e.xerts on him. 


Substitute for Reality! 

In the entire world over 1,100,000,000 admissions to the cinema take place yearly 

What do audiences want? 

Substitute for reahty! 

Reality is difficult and unsatisfying 

Thanks to its illusion of reality 

the film can effectively falsify reality 



Relaxation ! 

Just as one goes for a walk on Sundays, so one likes occasionally to go to a 
movie in the evening; there is nothing wrong with this. There one fnids 
reaUty and pseudo-reality, as well as amusement. Now real amusement is in 
a very special way close to reality, fdled with reality. It does not criticize real- 
ity, nor does it deceive itself with pseudo-reahty. It takes reality as it is, and here 
and there, in a playful way, exposes its innermost rules. 



In the entire world over 1,100,000,000 admissions to the cinema take place yearly 

What do audiences want? 


Reahty is difficult and unsatisfying 

Thanks to its illusion of reality 

the film can play with reahty in a relaxing way 




It may be impossible to master reality physically in many cases. But it is pos- 
sible, even though it is difficult, to master it intellectually, i.e. to recognize 
why it is as it is and to deduce consequences from this recognition. Flight from 
reahty is easy but self-deceiving. Play is happy. To recognize the truth, to 
acknowledge the truth is an essential need for the intellectually free man; he 
may be bound socially, but it is precisely then that intellectual freedom is 
vitallv important. 

Thanks to its intense illusion of reality, the film is able to master reality 
effectively, both intellectually and artistically; to show it could be as it should 
be, were it not as it is ! And, as no other art can, it could transmit to the whole 
world the truth that its economic condition depends on the conception of 
internationality. For its language, the picture, is the language of the whole 


Reality ! 

In the entire world over 1,100,000,000 admissions to the cinema take place yearly 

What do audiences want? 


Reahty is difficult and unsatisfying 

Thanks to its illusion of reality 

the film can effectively master reality 



The Passive Film-Goer 

The problem of 'the tilni as it ouglit to be' cannot be solved by placing the 
full responsibility one way or another. Certainly the wishful dreaming of the 
passive film-goer is exploited by the film producer — but why does the film- 
goer permit himself to be controlled by his wishful dreaming? And the film 
producer certainly forces the hlm-gocr to consume the films as they are — but 
they please the film-goer as they are. So: Who is forchig whom: Who is forced 
by whom? 

Everyone is under the pressure of his socio-economic conditions. To the film 
producer this means profit and power; therefore he endeavours to keep it 
static. But to the film-goer it means that reality is hard and unsatisfying; there- 
fore he endeavours to free himself from it. As soon as he can successfully free 
himself, not for two hours only, but permanently — if not materially yet intel- 
lectually — then he will take a stand against reality. Then he will no longer 
passively permit his weaknesses to be exploited, nor permit himself to be con- 
trolled by his wishful dreaming. Then the passive film-goer will become an 
active one. 


The Passive Filin-Goer 

The passive film-goer is 

controlled by his wishful dreaming 
exploited in his wishful dreaming 

Today the fdm-goer is 

the slave of fdm production: 

the tyrant over film production : 

he is forced 
to consume 
what is produced 

he forces it 
to produce 
what pleases him 

the film-producer is 

the tyrant over the film-goer: 

the slave of the film-goer: 

he forces him 
to consume 
what he produces 

he is forced 
to produce 
what pleases the film-goer 



The Active Film-Goer 

If there were a sufficiently large number of active film-goers choosing their 
films in freedom from the blind pressure of their social conditions because they 
had seen through the economic mechanism of the film (as they had seen 
through their own economic and social conditions), they would be strong 
enough to force the him industry to stop the mass production of substitute for 


The Active Film-Goer 

The active film-goer 

endeavours actively to develop his opinion 

actively to develop his will 
fights the bad film 

fights for the good film 

The independent press 

is one of the most important instruments for developing active opinions 

The film-goers' organizations are one of the most important instruments for developing an active will 



The Aim 

The aim, stated simply, is the good and true film in the service of mankind. The 
film is still far away from fulfilling this aim; but we have to open the way to- 
wards fulfilling it. 

Film production as profit production, which means as production for profit 
on invested capital, chains the film as an art. 

Film production as production for need, which means as production not for 
the undominated needs o( the passive tilm-gocr (who is only the instrument 
of proht production), but as production for the needs of the active film-goer, 
needs based on consciously developed opinion and will, would make the film- 
goer the master of production and the tilm producer the servant of the film- 
goer — would free the film as an art. 

The authors of this book would like to contribute to the fulfilment of this 
aim by making the tilm-goer aware of the great artistic possibilities of the film, 
as well as of its great socio-economic liandicaps. 


The Aim 

Film production 

as production for the profit of the producer (profit production) 

chains the fihn as an art 

Fihn production 

as production for the need of the active fihn-goer (need production) 

makes the fdm-goer the master of production 

the producer the servant of the fdm-goer 

Jrees thejilin os nil art! 


Picture Index 

The picture index corresponds to the arrangement of the pictures. The system of three vertical columns used throughout the whole book is also 

used for the arrangement of the index. The position of each mention corresponds, therefore, to the position of the picture related to it. 

For the large pictures on the left sides (outside the three column system) the index is to be found on the left of the three columns. 

In general, the name of the Im is mentioned, occasionally also the name of the actor; and nearly always the name of the director is added in 


/ left side 

'Modern Times' (Charlie Chaplin) 

/ rigbl side 

'Schach dem Konig' 
'Mother' (V. I. Pudovkin) 

2 right side 

Scene from 'The Weavers' 
by Gerhart Hauptmann (Basle City Theatre) 

Hans Richtcr Photo 

J right side 

Dominique higres: Portrait of M. Bertin 
Photograph by Bentall. i860 
Edouard Manet: Horse Race at Longchanips 
'The Western Union' (Fritz Lang) 

y right side 

Medieval church fresco 

Hans Holbein the Younger : 
Erasmus of Rotterdam 

Medieval Miniature book 

Hans Holbein the Younger: 
Woodcut from the Dance of Death 

right side 

Eidenbenz Photo 
'Mother' (V. I. Pudovkin) 

6 left side 

Production shot: 'Sergeant York' 
(Howard Hawks) 

6 right side 

Eidenbenz Photo 

Production shot: Noel Coward directing 
('In which we serve') 

Vincent van Gogh: Landscape near Saint-Remy 
'Peter the Great' (Petrov) 


g right side 

Advertising facade of a contemporary American 

JO left side 

'The last Chance' (Leopold Lindtberg) 

// left side 

'Mr. Smith goes to Washington' (Frank Capra) 

II right side 

'Louis Pasteur' ( William Dietetic) 

/J right side 

Loretta Young and Robert Taylor 
From a Wild West film 
The cast of a Hardy Family film 
'Mrs. Miniver' ( William Wyler) 

l6 riglit side 

Page from the novel ' War and Peace' 
by Leo Tolstoi 

Page from the drama 'The living Corpse' 
bv Leo Tolstoi 

Page from the stage scenario 
for 'The living Corpse' 

Page from the filmscenario by Richard 
Schweizer for 'The last Chance' 

Scene from 'The living Corpse' 
(Berne City Theatre) 

'The last Chance' (Leopold Lindtberg) 

I J right side 

Page from 'Iphigenie' by Goethe 

Page from 'The Weavers' 
by Gerhart Hauptmann 

Page from the scenario by Richard Schweizer 
for 'The last Chance' 

l8 right side 

'Faust' (Fritz Murnau) 

'Major Barbara' (Gabriel Pascal) 

21 right side 

Production shot: Alfred Hitchcock directing 

Production shot : Editing room 

Production shot: John Ford directing 
('The Informer') 

22 left side 

'The Good Earth' (Sidney Franklin) 

right side 

'La Bete Humaine' (Jean Renoir) 

'Sous les Toits de Paris' (Rene Clair) 

'Mother' (V. I. Pudovkin) 

'La Fein me du Boulanger' (Marcel Pagnol) 


2 J left side 

'Sous les Toits de Paris' (Rene Clair) 

2 J right side 

Bcttc Davis in 'The little Foxes' (William Wylcr) 
'The Battleship Potcmkin' (S. M. Eisenstcin) 
'No Man's Land' (Victor Trivas) 

2^ left side 

'Lejour se leve' (Marcel Carne) 

'The Long Voyage Home' (John Ford) 
'Der Kampf der Tertia' (Max Mack) 

'Le Jour se leve' (Marcel Carne) 

2-/ right side 

Paul Wegener in an old film 

Jean Gabin in 'La Bete Humaine' 
(Jean Renoir) 

'Earth' (Dovchenko) 

2j left side 

'Tobacco Road' (John Ford) 

2j right side 

'In which we serve' (Noel Coward) 
'General Line' (S. M. Eisenstcin) 
'Le Quai des Brumes' (Marcel Carne) 
'General Line' (S.M.Eisenstein) 

26 right side 

Kurt Horwitz as Antonio in Goethe's 'Tasso' 
(Zurich Playhouse) 

Karl Paryla as Fedja in Tolstoi's 

'The Hving Corpse' (Zurich Playhouse) 

'The Grapes of Wrath' (John Ford) 

Scene from 'Oedipus the King' by Sophokles 
(Basle City Theatre) 

Scene from 'The Rats' by Gcrhart Hauptmann 
(Zurich Playhouse) 

'The last Days of St. Petersburg' 

27 left side 

Catherine Hesshng in 'En Rade' 
(Alberto Cavalcanti) 

2^ right side 

28 right side 

From an old film 

Sarah Bernhardt in 'Queen Elizabeth' 

Charlie Chaplin in 'The Vagabond' 

Douglas Fairbanks Sr. in 'Robin Hood' 

Marlenc Dietrich in 'Manpower' (RaoulWalsh) 

Errol Flynn in 'The Charge of the Light Brigade' 
(Michael Curtiz) 

From a Wild West Film 

From a Musical Revue Film 

2g left side 

Michel Simon in 'Le Quai dcs Brumes' (Marcel Carne) 


2() right side 

Greta Garbo 

Corinne Luchaire in 'Prisons sans Barreaux' 

JO riglit side 

'Fest der Volker' 
'Fest der Volker' 
'Neurose' (Wow and Zitch) 
'The Vanipyre' (Carl Dreycr) 

J/ riglil side 

Scene from 'The merry Wives of Windsor' 
by Shakespeare (Basle City Theatre) 

'Romeo undjiili.i auf deni Dorfe' 
(Hans Trommcr) 

'Le Quai des Brumes' (Marcel Carne) 

J2 left side 

Production shot: 

'The Hunchback of Notre-Dame' 

(William Dieterle) 

light side 

'Major Barbara' (Gabriel Pascal) 

From a film by Georges Melies 

'Ben Hur' (Fred Niblo) 

'The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari' 
(Robert Wiener) 

'Gunga Din' (George Stevens) 

_jj left side 

'Le jour sc leva' (Marcel Came) 

'La Regie dujcu' (Jean Renoir) 

.?,? '''A''" ■''"'<' 

Production shot 

Production shot 

'Que viva Mexico' 

(S.M.Eisenstein and G. Alexandroff) 

jy right side 

'Rebecca' (Alfred Hitchcock) 

J5 '<■/' -'''* 

'In which we serve' (Noel Coward) 

JS right side 

Eidenbenz Photo 

Thomas Mitchell in 'The Long Voyage Home' 
(John Ford) 

Harry Baur in 'Lcs Miscrables' 

Harry Baur in 'Les Miscrables' 

Silvia Sidney 

Marguerite Moreno in 'Regain' (Marcel Pagnol) 

Harry Baur in 'Les Miscrables' 


j6 left side 

'Dead End' (William Wyler) 

^6 right side 

'M.' 'A City seeks a Murderer' (Fritz Lang) 
'Symphonie einer GroBstadt' (Walter Ruttniann) 

'Mother' (V.I.Pudovkin) 
'Mother' (V.I.Pudovkin) 

'General Line' (S.M.Eisenstein) 

j^ right side 

'Le Quai des Brumes' (Marcel Came) 

'Mother' (V.LPudovkin) 

From an American Film 

'M.' 'A City seeks a Murderer' (Fritz Lang) 

j8 lift side 

'The 13' (Michail Romm) 

j8 right side 

'Enthusiasm' (Dziga-Vertoff) 

'The Vampyre' (Carl Dreycr) 

'Le Quai des Brumes' (Marcel Carnc) 

'M.' 'A City seeks a Murderer' (Fritz Lang) 

JQ right side 

'Der Kanipf der Tertia' (Max Mack) 
'Man with Camera' (Dziga-Vertoff) 

70 right side 

Production shot 
'Rennsymphonie' (Hans Richter) 

7/ riglit side 

'La Regie du Jeu' (Jean Renoir) 
'Mother' (V.I.Pudovkin) 

^2 right side 

'Mother' (V.I.Pudovkin) 

'Entr'acte" (Rene Clair) 

4 J '■(?''' •^"'^ 

'October' (S.M.Eisenstein) 

77 right side 

'The Saboteur' (Alfred Hitchcock) 

75 right side 

4.6 left side 

From a film by Georges Melies 

'Mother' (V.I.Pudovkin) 


46 right side 

.Vorinittagsspuk" (Hans Richter) 
'Entr'acte' (Rene Clair) 
'The Student of Prague' 

^7 left side 

'Fantasia' ( Walt Disney) 

^7 right side 

Felix the Cat (Walt Disney) 
Mickey Mouse ( Walt Disney) 
'Snow-Wliite' (Walt Disney) 

^1? right side 

'Diagonal Symphony" (Viking Eggeling) 

i/Q right s<de 

jO right side 

From an old tilni 

'Birth of a Nation' (D.W.Griffith) 

'General Line' (S.M.Eisenstein) 

'Le Sang d'un I'octe' (Jean Cocteau) 

'La Femme du Boulanger' (Marcel Pagnol) 

Scene from 'The Merchant of Berlin' 
(Stage design by L. Moholy-Nagy) 

5/ right side 

riglit side 

Vincent Van Gogh : Prison Yard 

John Hartficld: Collage 

Niklaus Stocklin : Shoe tree 

Salvador Dali: 

The Weaning of the Furniture-Nutrition 

'Mother' (V.I.Pudovkin) 
'Man with Camera' (Dziga-VcrtotT) 
'Mother' (V. L Pudovkin) 
'L'Age d'Or' (Salvador Dali) 

Eidenbenz Photo 
Eidenbenz Photo 
Man Ray Photo 

Photomontage by John Hartfield 
Blumenfeld Photo 

yd right side 

Old tent Cinema, Switzerland 
Old Cinema Theatre, Basle 
Modern Cinema Theatre, New York 

57 "S'lt -*'■'''' 

'The Mark of Zorro' 

j<S' riglit side 

'Gold Rush' (Charlie Chaplin) 

jO right side 

'The Grapes of Wrath' (John Ford) 


Table of Contents 

Forcivard and Note to the English Edition 

IntrodiicUon i-6 

What is the Fihn? I 

Fihii and Theatre 2 

Fihn and Painting 3 

From Single Picture to Reproduction 4-5 

The Fihn as a Technique 6 

Financing 7- 1 5 

The Costs of Production and Distribution 7 

What causes increasing Costs? 8 

Results of the Increase in Costs 9 

The Film of Small Nations 10 

The Mission of the Film II 

Who is the Sponsor? 12 

Capital Investment in the Fihn Industry 13 

Monopoly in the Film Industry 14 

Standardization of Film Production 15 

Artistic Production i6-_s2 


The Scenario 16 

The Picture-Score 17 

The Dialogue-Score 18 

The Sound Effects Score 19 

The Scenario in the History of the Film 20 


Film Direction 21 


The Actor - in the Theatre - in the Film 22 

The Film Actor as Material of the Pictorial Language 23 

The Film Actor in the Picture 24 

The Film Actor and Reality 25 

The Actor in the Development from the Theatre to the Fihn 26 

The Actor in the Period of the Silent Film 27 

Standardization of the Actor 28 

The Actor in the Period of the Sound Film 29 


Fihn and Reality 30 

Fihn Decor 31-32 

Theatre Decor - Film Decor 3 1 

Decor in the History of the Film 32 


The Set-Up 33-38 

The Set-Up 33 

The Basic Set-Ups 34 

The Close-Up 35 

Various Set-Ups 36 

Space 37 

Light 38 

Movement in the Fihii 39-45 

Movement in the Picture 39 

Movement of the Picture 40 

Movement from Picture to Picture =^ Montage 41 

Montage 42 

Time Creation through Montage 43 

Space Creation through Montage 44 

Creation of Associations through Montage 45 

Tricks in the Fiction Fihn 46 

The Animated Fihn 47-48 

The Popular Animated Fihn 47 

The Abstract Fihn 48 

The Fihn Picture in the History of the Film 49 

The Film docs not stand alone! 50-52 

The Film and Modern Theatre 50 

The Film and Modern Painting 51 

The Film and Modern Photography 52 

Distribution ami Exhibit ion 53-56 

Distribution 53 

Blind Booking and Block Booking 54 

Limitation of the Circulatimi Time of a Film 55 

Exhibition : The Cinema Theatre 56 

The Film-Goer 57-6i 

Substitute for Reality 57 

Relaxation 58 

ReaHty 59 

The Passive Film-Goer 60 

The Active Film-Goer 61 

The Aim 62 

The Aim 62 
Picture Index 


Most of the pictures in this book were reproduced from fihii-stills or frames from the fihiis them- 
selves. Reproductions from various works of fihn-Uterature were also used, as well as reproductions 
from magazines. For film-stills and films given to us for reproduction we are indebted to the follwing 

Swiss Film Archive, Basle 

Cinematheque Fran(;aise, Paris 

Zurich Playhouse 

Basle City Theatre 

Berne City Theatre 

Columbus Film Company, Zurich 

Film Distribution Inc., Geneva 

Emelka Film Co., Zurich 

Eos Film Co., Zurich 

Films Parlants Co., Geneva 

Twentieth Century Fox Corporation, Geneva 

Leuzinger's Cinema, Rapperswil 

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc., Zurich 

Monopole Films Inc., Zurich 

Moiiopole Pathe Films, Geneva 

Nordisk Film Company, Zurich 

Praescns Film Company, Zurich 

Pro Film, Zurich 

R.K.O., Geneva 

Royal Films, Geneva 

Warner Brothers First National Films Inc., Geneva 

Plates: F. Schwitter Co., Basle-Zurich 

Printing: Graphische Anstalt Georg Rentsch Siihnc, Oltcn-Trinibach, Text 
Imprimerie Robert S. A., Moutier, Illustrations 

Binding: Vogt-Schild, Solothurn